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Sloan School of Management

Managing Technical Professionals and Organizations

Next dates

Oct 22—23
2 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 3700
USD 1850 per day


This program explores a set of proven, practical, and innovative strategies for maximizing the contribution of an organization’s technical resources. It provides key insights on how to retain technical staff, integrate technical professionals into the organization, build more successful project teams, and keep teams high-performing over time.

Technical professionals' goals and incentives are often different from those of other employees, and so are the management challenges that arise. Drawing on the wealth of research and industry experience of faculty and leading practitioners, Managing Technical Professionals and Organizations explores proven, practical, and innovative strategies for maximizing the contribution of technical professionals. This intensive program focuses on the management and motivation of technical professionals in the innovative organization, and in particular:

  • How creative individual contributors work together on risky projects, processing information under conditions of uncertainty;
  • How to address critical problems and issues dealing with staff professionals and members of project teams, including cross-functional teams;
  • How to work effectively with prima donnas and independent spirits.

The Learning Experience

Organizations that are designed and managed for doing the same things well repetitively, as in manufacturing and operations, are not particularly appropriate for doing something well once, as in R&D. Running a technical organization presents a unique set of management problems. How do you motivate and reward technical professionals to maximize their performance and creativity? How do you create an organizational structure that will contribute to success, not inhibit it? How do you deal with creative individual contributors, project teams, and innovative professionals? How do you build and sustain high motivation and vitality while preventing complacency? How do you utilize "marshaling" events for building more collaborative, innovative activities? And how do you move information and technology effectively across organizational structures?

This unique two-day program focuses on issues critical to the effective management of technical professionals and cross-functional teams. Its principles and strategies can be applied in any organization where research, development, engineering, or computer-related technology developments need to take place in a timely, effective, and successful manner.

Participants will learn principles and strategies of crucial importance to any organization where R&D, engineering, and/or computer-related technologies lie at the core of the business. Upon completing this program, participants will gain a thorough understanding of the following subjects:

  • Managing risk taking and uncertainty in technical projects
  • Managing and motivating your technical professionals
  • Developing effective reward and incentive systems for technical professionals
  • Creating a highly motivating work environment
  • Managing and leading creative individual contributors
  • Maximizing the technical productivity and vitality of teams
  • Leading and managing more effectively across organizational structures
  • Leading system change within established corporate cultures
  • Transferring technology and information flows between and within organizations
  • Organizing for innovative product development
  • Managing the tensions among development efforts and cost/schedule pressures

Sample Schedule—Subject to Change


  • 08:00AM - 08:30AM Registration and Continental Breakfast
  • 08:30AM - 12:00PM Managing Motivation, Performance, and Productivity in Technical Organizations
  • 12:00PM - 01:00PM Networking Lunch
  • 01:00PM - 05:00PM Managing Uncertainty and Sustaining Motivation, Innovation, and High Performance Over Time
  • 05:00PM - 06:00PM Reception


  • 08:00AM - 08:30AM Continental Breakfast
  • 08:30AM - 10:00AM Managing and Leading Creative Individual Contributors
  • 10:00AM - 12:15PM Levers for Structuring the Effectiveness of Professionals Working Together in Innovative Organizations
  • 12:15PM - 01:15PM Networking Lunch
  • 01:15PM - 03:15PM Managing Risk Taking, Uncertainty, and Problem Solving Deliberations Among Cost, Quality, and Schedule Pressures
  • 03:15PM - 03:45PM Summary, Review and Implementation – Days 1 & 2
  • 03:45PM - 04:00PM Adjournment

Who should attend

This program has been strategically designed for executives who manage technical professionals. Past participants have included:

  • CIOs
  • Chief technologists
  • Directors of R&D and engineering
  • Engineering and manufacturing VPs
  • Corporate strategists
  • Head scientists
  • Project managers
  • Systems information managers
  • Product development managers
  • Experienced individual contributors and staff professionals
  • Other key members of technical leadership and management


Ralph Katz is a Senior Lecturer in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Katz is also a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship management at Northeastern University’s College of Business. For more than 35 years, he has ...


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